We could not be more excited to introduce the book: Raising Elijah: Protecting Our Children in an Age of Environmental Crisis by mother and biologist Sandra Steingraber. She reveals that there is a large disconnect between the research about chemicals and the chemical regulatory system. In other words, we know that certain chemicals are bad for humans and the ecosystem but because of the way the legal system is set up, these chemical are not banned from the market place. As parents there are now two talks we need to have with our children, one is the age old: where do babies come from? This story is about creation. The other story, according to Steingraber is about the environment. This story is the opposite of creation. It is about the de-creation of our planet and does not have a happy ending unless we do something heroic.
Steingraber passionately explains on her podcast on the CBC’s The Current with Anna Maria Tremonti [found here] that the North American legal and social system presumes chemicals are innocent until proven guilty. This is a severe threat to our ability to protect our families. Only 5 chemical substances have been removed from the market place, while there are thousands currently in our food, on our cloths and in the bodies of our children.
The Toxic Substances Control Act was founded in 1976, yet no chemicals have been taken off the market since 1990. The fact is that the regulatory system was not made to be responsive to new science in the US and Canada. Tremonti adds, that in the European Union they operate on the precautionary principle which means that chemicals can’t be used until proven safe which is the opposite of the legal system in Canada and the US.Steingraber reveals that there are many pesticides that are banned in Europe because of the detrimental effect on children but are currently being sold in Canada and the US. This is simply hair-raising for Canadian and American parents.
Raising Elijah is written from the prospective of a mother and a biologist directly to other parents. Steingraber argues that the environmental crisis prevents her from carrying out her most fundamental jobs as a mother; keeping her children safe from harm and planning for their future. Her book is a call to action and it is about creating “carbon-free thinking” (Steingraber) in our homes. “We have already used up the easy ways to get fossil fuel”, explains Steingraber. Moreover she states that there are even more extreme ways that people are trying to get at the oil, such as the tar sands in Canada and another process wherein the bed-rock is blown up and filled with chemicals. She also points out the health risks will cause more dollars to be spent on health care and when these numbers are held up against the argument that oil is affordable and good for industry, we can see that in fact the cost is much more than the benefits.
Shockingly, when toxic chemicals are studied, the special biology and venerability of children is not taken into account. As an example, Steingraber points out that we already know that there are levels of diesel exhaust in umbilical cord blood and the higher the levels, the higher the chances of premature birth and learning disabilities. The conclusion here is: The threat to the environment is also a threat to our children.
The below video is part 1 of the Finger Lakes Clean Waters Symposium wherein Steingraber is the keynote speaker. You can also view the trailer for Sandra Steingraber’s documentary titled Living Downstream [here], which follows Sandra while she breaks the silence about cancer and environmental links. To view her bio, check out her web-site [here].